As many of you already know, I section hike the Appalachian Trail every Spring. Section hiking is when you do short sections of a longer trail. Through hiking is when you hike the entire trail at once. Generally I hike between 50-100 mile sections of the Appalachian Trail (AT) every May. Each time has been a different section.
2017 will be different! 2017 marks my 10th anniversary for section hiking major trails across the USA! How AWESOME is that!?!
So what does this mean?
Come April 2017 on approximately Monday morning the 3rd I will set foot at the arch way of Springer Mountain in Georgia. At such time I shall begin my first through hike Journey of 2185 miles northward to Katahdin Mountain Maine!
I am super excited to have the opportunity, time, and finances to attempt this hike. Addie stands behind me 100% and is just as excited about the trip as I am. She will be staying home and taking care of what is generally called trail support. She will be sending me my care packages and gear swaps and needed items along the way. Addie will also be keeping up with the website posting of the chickens and homestead life. When I reach Damascus Va. on May 19th-21st she will meet me there for “Trail Days” with the dogs. I will swap out gear with her and resupply etc… and of course other things married couples do.
While I am on the trail I intend to get a trail phone (cell phone) that can upload to the internet. I will do my best to type up weekly trail blogs and post pictures to the website here. This way everyone can follow along. In the past I have video recorded majority of my hikes and taken few pictures. This time around I am going to take LOTS of pictures and few videos. I am doing it this way because it will be much easier for me to upkeep the trip blog while I am hiking for the 6 months I will be on trail. Don’t worry though there will be some videos. I will send SD cards home with videos on them as I fill them for Addie to post to my FixedByDoc OffGrid YouTube Channel when she has time to do so.
There is no telling if I will even complete the entire 2185 mile hike along the AT due to my being a Disabled Veteran. I am working closely with my doctors to ensure my best possible chances. Hiking has been for years prescribed as part of my physical therapy routine by my primary care doctor in the VA Hospital. I am currently attending a 12 week pain management program I just started this week. It involves working with several different specialists in the PT and OT fields and in pain management and with my Primary Doctor etc… The program is designed to help Vets like myself learn to deal with our injuries and pain they inflict in such a way that we might still participate in some of the activities we used to do such as hiking in my case. The program is there to help me get the skills and tools etc… I will need to deal with my injuries and such while living my life. I can hike with the proper gear, using proper technique, and by pacing my self despite what naysayers may claim about disabled people not being able to get out and do things.
Financially we have this covered and shouldn’t be to expensive. Actually it should be cheaper than my living at home really. At home I have an allowance for spending on myself of roughly $400 per month. In addition I spend roughly another $100 per month on gasoline driving to town for doctors appointments or whatever. Then the grocery bill for me is around $200 per month roughly. So that comes out to around $700 per month. I estimate that I will only need around $300-400 per month to hike the AT. Some months I might want a few extra dollars for something but overall that is a savings of $300 estimated. Still less then what I normally spend on miscellaneous allowance for me.
So what are the expenses for a hike such as this?
- hostel stays
- stove fuel
My food will basically be the same as usual. I will go to nearby grocery stores as required to resupply and try to keep it to around every 5 days or so.
I will do what is referred to as “Yellow Blazing” which is where you hitch hike or catch a shuttle when available to go around sections of the AT that involve steep repeated climbs that I am not capable of doing due to being disabled. Generally a shuttle costs around a $1 a mile but can be shared with other hikers going the same way. I shouldn’t need one to often. There are also plenty of free shuttles happening all the time as well, referred to as “Trail Magic”.
Occasionally I will stay at a trail hostel which is basically a bed for rent once or twice a month to do laundry and get a decent shower. These generally cost around $25-50 per night.
Stove fuel varies depending on what you use for a stove. I will be using my alcohol stove alone for the first couple of months. This means my fuel will be very cheap and very easy to find along the way. Denatured alcohol is the best and a 1qt can or bottle is generally less than $5 and will last me about 2 weeks. Once the weather starts warming up and drying out I will add my wood stove to my gear list and then burn twigs found along the way. This will double the life of my alcohol fuel.
Occasionally I will need to send stuff home. So having a few bucks for such a case will be needed. If I decide I no longer need a piece of gear or I find something cool I just gotta have or I get a gift from someone (all of which does happen a lot on the AT) or I come across fun post cards it is nice to be able to send them home and not have to throw it away.
Then there is always that miscellaneous expense… Maybe its a gear failure or that unexpected storm that soaks everything and you need a hostel to wash and dry it. Or you get sick. There is always a “Never You Know Cost”!
Many through hikers and even section hikers get caught up in the partying and drugs and drinking etc… and blow through their money/funds. You hear lots of stories about how people had to quit the trail because they ran out of money. Or hear how it cost them thousands of dollars to hike it. Generally those are the hardcore party crowds. It takes on average 6 months to hike the entire AT. If you are wise and careful with how you spend your money you should be able to do this hike for around $2,400-3,000. That is if you do not go over $400 per month and allot $600 for an emergency. Don’t worry I am not asking for money 🙂
Over the next few months leading up to D Day (Departure Day) I will post a series of Blogs with pictures and videos showing what I plan to take with me and how I am prepping for this journey. I intend to do a blog on my initial pre-pack list here in the next week or 2. Then as I do practice hikes and narrow down exactly what I will be taking etc… I will keep you all updated.
The pictures seen in this blog are from past section hikes on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.
Fabulous endeavor may you enjoy every step of the way.
Doc, wishing you the best on this magnificent journey. Stay safe and strong.
Thanks 🙂 it shall be fun!
My wife are starting our thruhike April 17. See you along the way perhaps.
I am a slow hiker so I am certain you will 🙂 Have you heard if they re-opened the trail yet through TN?
Could you use a brand new copy of 2017 AWOL guide for the AT? they sent me an extra book and said I could keep it and give it away. You are the only other person I know semi-sorta directly that is hiking the AT. I already have it on PDF downloaded everywhere on everything lol. So I don’t need the book guide. Let me know 🙂